Physicist

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Albert Einstein, a key theoretical physicist in the 20th century who developed the theory of relativity and parts of early quantum theory. Albert Einstein 1947.jpg
Albert Einstein, a key theoretical physicist in the 20th century who developed the theory of relativity and parts of early quantum theory.

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. [1] [2] Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. [1] Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies (also known as applied physics or engineering physics). [3] [4] [5]

Contents

History

In an 18th-century experiment in "natural philosophy" (later to be called "physics") English scientist Francis Hauksbee works with an early electrostatic generator. Hawksbees Electrical Machine by Jean-Antoine Nollet.jpg
In an 18th-century experiment in "natural philosophy" (later to be called "physics") English scientist Francis Hauksbee works with an early electrostatic generator.

The study and practice of physics is based on an intellectual ladder of discoveries and insights from ancient times to the present. Many mathematical and physical ideas used today found their earliest expression in the work of ancient civilizations, such as the Babylonian astronomers and Egyptian engineers, the Phoenician scholar Thales of Miletus, Euclid in Ptolemaic Egypt, and the Greek writers Archimedes and Aristarchus. Roots also emerged in ancient Asian cultures such as India and China, and particularly the Islamic medieval period, which saw the development of scientific methodology emphasising experimentation, such as the work of Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) in the 11th century, for example. The modern scientific worldview and the bulk of physics education can be said to flow from the scientific revolution in Europe, starting with the work of Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler in the early 1600s. Newton's laws of motion and Newton's law of universal gravitation were formulated in the 17th century. The experimental discoveries of Faraday and the theory of Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism were developmental high points during the 19th century. Many physicists contributed to the development of quantum mechanics in the early-to-mid 20th century. New knowledge in the early 21st century includes a large increase in understanding physical cosmology.

The broad and general study of nature, natural philosophy, was divided into several fields in the 19th century, when the concept of "science" received its modern shape. Specific categories emerged, such as "biology" and "biologist", "physics" and "physicist", "chemistry" and "chemist", among other technical fields and titles. [6] The term physicist was coined by William Whewell (also the originator of the term "scientist") in his 1840 book The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences. [7]

Education

A standard undergraduate physics curriculum consists of classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, non-relativistic quantum mechanics, optics, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, and laboratory experience. [8] [9] [10] Physics students also need training in mathematics (calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, complex analysis, etc.), and in computer science.

Any physics-oriented career position requires at least an undergraduate degree in physics or applied physics, while career options widen with a Master's degree like MSc, MPhil, MPhys or MSci. [11]

For research-oriented careers, students work toward a doctoral degree specializing in a particular field. Fields of specialization include experimental and theoretical astrophysics, atomic physics, biological physics, chemical physics, condensed matter physics, cosmology, geophysics, gravitational physics, material science, medical physics, microelectronics, molecular physics, nuclear physics, optics, radiophysics, electromagnetic field and microwave physics, particle physics, and plasma physics.

Honors and awards

The highest honor awarded to physicists is the Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded since 1901 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. [12] National physics professional societies have many prizes and awards for professional recognition. In the case of the American Physical Society, as of 2017, there are 33 separate prizes and 38 separate awards in the field.

Careers

Experimental physicists at work at the accelerator laboratory of the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fyysikot tyossaan.jpg
Experimental physicists at work at the accelerator laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä (Finland).

The three major employers of career physicists are academic institutions, laboratories, and private industries, with the largest employer being the last. Physicists in academia or government labs tend to have titles such as Assistants, Professors, Sr./Jr. Scientist, or postdocs. As per the American Institute of Physics, some 20% of new physics Ph.D.s holds jobs in engineering development programs, while 14% turn to computer software and about 11% are in business/education. [13] A majority of physicists employed apply their skills and training to interdisciplinary sectors (e.g. finance [14] ). [15] Job titles for graduate physicists include Agricultural Scientist, Air Traffic Controller, Biophysicist, Computer Programmer, Electrical Engineer, Environmental Analyst, Geophysicist, Medical Physicist, Meteorologist, Oceanographer, Physics Teacher/Professor/Researcher, Research Scientist, Reactor Physicist, Engineering Physicist, Satellite Missions Analyst, Science Writer, Stratigrapher, Software Engineer, Systems Engineer, Microelectronics Engineer, Radar Developer, Technical Consultant, etc. [16] [17] [18] [19]

The majority of Physics terminal bachelor's degree holders are employed in the private sector. Other fields are academia, government and military service, nonprofit entities, labs and teaching. [20]

Typical duties of physicists with master's and doctoral degrees working in their domain involve research, observation and analysis, data preparation, instrumentation, design and development of industrial or medical equipment, computing and software development, etc. [21]

Professional Certification

United Kingdom

Chartered Physicist (CPhys) is a chartered status and a professional qualification awarded by the Institute of Physics. It is denoted by the postnominals "CPhys".

Achieving chartered status in any profession denotes to the wider community a high level of specialised subject knowledge and professional competence. According to the Institute of Physics, holders of the award of the Chartered Physicist (CPhys) demonstrate the "highest standards of professionalism, up-to-date expertise, quality and safety" along with "the capacity to undertake independent practice and exercise leadership" as well as "commitment to keep pace with advancing knowledge and with the increasing expectations and requirements for which any profession must take responsibility".

Chartered Physicist is considered to be equal in status to Chartered Engineer, which the IoP also awards as a member of the Engineering Council UK, and other chartered statuses in the UK. It is also considered a "regulated profession" under the European professional qualification directives.

Canada

The Canadian Association of Physicists can appoint an official designation called the P. Phys. which stands for Professional Physicist, similar to the designation of P. Eng. which stands for Professional Engineer. This designation was unveiled at the CAP congress in 1999 and already more than 200 people carry this distinction.

To get the certification, at minimum proof of honours bachelor or higher degree in physics or a closely related discipline must be provided. Also, the physicist must have completed, or be about to complete, three years of recent physics-related work experience after graduation. And, unless exempted, a professional practice examination must also be passed. Exemption can be granted to candidate that have practiced physics for at least seven years and provide a detailed description of their professional accomplishments which clearly demonstrate that the exam is not necessary.

Work experience will be considered physics-related if it uses physics directly or significantly uses the modes of thought (such as the approach to problem-solving) developed in your education or experience as a physicist, in all cases regardless of whether the experience is in academia, industry, government, or elsewhere. Management of physics related work qualifies, and so does appropriate graduate student work.

South Africa

The South African Institute of Physics delivers a certification of Professional Physicists (Pr.Phys). At a minimum, the owner must possess a 3-year bachelors or equivalent degree in physics or a related field and an additional minimum of six years' experience in a physics-related activity; or an Honor or equivalent degree in physics or a related field and an additional minimum of five years' experience in a physics-related activity; or master or equivalent degree in physics or a related field and an additional minimum of three years' experience in a physics-related activity; a Doctorate or equivalent degree in Physics or a related field; or training or experience which, in the opinion of the Council, is equivalent to any of the above.

See also

Related Research Articles

Chemist Scientist trained in the study of chemistry

A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms. Chemists carefully measure substance proportions, reaction rates, and other chemical properties. The word 'chemist' is also used to address Pharmacists in Commonwealth English.

Software engineer Practitioner of software engineering

A software engineer is a person who applies the principles of software engineering to the design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of computer software.

Civil engineer engineer specialising in design, construction and maintenance of the built environment

A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering – the application of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructures while protecting the public and environmental health, as well as improving existing infrastructures that have been neglected.

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is a UK-based learned society and professional body that works to advance physics education, research and application.

A Bachelor of Engineering is a first professional undergraduate academic degree awarded to a student after three to five years of studying engineering at an accredited university. In the UK, a B.Eng. degree will be accredited by one of the Engineering Council's professional engineering institutions as suitable for registration as an incorporated engineer or chartered engineer with further study to masters level. In Canada, the degree from a Canadian university can be accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). Alternatively, it might be accredited directly by another professional engineering institution, such as the US-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The B.Eng. contributes to the route to chartered engineer (UK), registered engineer or licensed professional engineer and has been approved by representatives of the profession.

Leonard Susskind American physicist

Leonard Susskind is an American physicist, who is a professor of theoretical physics at Stanford University, and founding director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an associate member of the faculty of Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and a distinguished professor of the Korea Institute for Advanced Study.

Engineering physics, or engineering science, refers to the study of the combined disciplines of physics, mathematics, biology, social science, and engineering, particularly computer, nuclear, electrical, electronic, aerospace, materials or mechanical engineering. By focusing on the scientific method as a rigorous basis, it seeks ways to apply, design, and develop new solutions in engineering.

A Master of Engineering is either an academic or professional master's degree in the field of engineering.

A medical physicist is a professional who applies the principles and methods of both physics and medicine. They focus on the areas of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as ensuring quality services and prevention of risks to the patients, and members of the public in general. A medical physicist plays a fundamental role in applying physics to medicine, but particularly in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The scientific and technological progress in medical physics has led to a variety of skills that must be integrated into the role of a medical physicist in order for them to perform their job. The "medical services" provided to patients undergoing diagnostic and therapeutic treatments must, therefore, be the result of different but complementary skills.

Chartered Chemist (CChem) is a chartered status awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in the United Kingdom, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) in Australia, by the Ministry of Education in Italy, and the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon (IChemC), Sri Lanka.

International Centre for Theoretical Physics International research institute for physical and mathematical sciences

The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) is an international research institute for physical and mathematical sciences that operates under a tripartite agreement between the Italian Government, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is located near the Miramare Park, about 10 kilometres from the city of Trieste, Italy. The centre was founded in 1964 by Pakistani Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam.

Engineering education is the activity of teaching knowledge and principles to the professional practice of engineering. It includes an initial education, and any advanced education and specializations that follow. Engineering education is typically accompanied by additional postgraduate examinations and supervised training as the requirements for a professional engineering license. The length of education, and training to qualify as a basic professional engineer, is typically 8–12 years, with 15–20 years for an engineer who takes responsibility for major projects.

A professional degree, formerly known in the US as a first professional degree, is a degree that prepares someone to work in a particular profession, often, but not always, meeting the academic requirements for licensure or accreditation. Professional degrees may be either graduate or undergraduate entry, depending on the profession concerned and the country, and may be classified as bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees. For a variety of reasons, professional degrees may bear the name of a different level of qualification from their classification in qualifications frameworks, e.g. some UK professional degrees are named bachelor's but are at master's level, while some Australian and Canadian professional degrees have the name "doctor" but are classified as master's or bachelor's degrees.

The following outline is provided as a topical overview of science:

In the United Kingdom, a Chartered Engineer is an Engineer registered with the Engineering Council. Contemporary Chartered Engineers are degree-qualified and have gained the highest level of professional competencies through training and monitored professional practice experience. This is a peer reviewed process. The formation process of a Chartered Engineer consists of obtaining an accredited Master of Engineering (MEng) degree, or BEng plus MSc or other master's degree or City and Guilds Post Graduate Diploma in an engineering discipline, and a minimum of four years of professional post graduate peer reviewed experience. The title Chartered Engineer is protected by civil law and is a terminal qualification in engineering. The Engineering Council regulates professional engineering titles in the UK. With more than 180,000 registrants from many countries, designation as a Chartered Engineer is one of the most recognisable international engineering qualifications.

Chartered Physicist (CPhys) is a chartered status and a professional qualification awarded by the Institute of Physics. It is denoted by the postnominals "CPhys".

A Chartered professional is a person who has gained a specific level of skill or competence in a particular field of work, which has been recognised by the award of a formal credential by a relevant professional organization. Chartered status is considered a mark of professional competency, and is awarded mainly by chartered professional bodies and learned societies. Common in Britain, it is also used in Ireland, the United States and the Commonwealth, and has been adopted by organizations around the world.

Bimla Buti is an Indian physicist and specializes in the field of plasma physics. She was the first Indian woman Physicist Fellow of Indian National Science Academy(INSA). In 1994, she was awarded INSA-Vainu Bappu Award.

Rama Govindarajan is an Indian scientist specialized in the field of Fluid Dynamics. She was formerly working at the Engineering Mechanics Unit of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research from 1998-2012 and as a professor at the TIFR Hyderabad from 2012-2016 Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences and presently she is working as professor at International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) Bengaluru. Prof. Govindarajan is a recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award for the year 2007.

Physics outreach encompasses facets of science outreach and physics education, and a variety of activities by schools, research institutes, universities, clubs and institutions such as science museums aimed at broadening the audience for and awareness and understanding of physics. While the general public may sometimes be the focus of such activities, physics outreach often centers on developing and providing resources and making presentations to students, educators in other disciplines, and in some cases researchers within different areas of physics.

References

  1. 1 2 Rosen, Joe (2009). Encyclopedia of Physics. Infobase Publishing. p. 247.
  2. "physicist". Merriam-Webster Dictionary . "a scientist who studies or is a specialist in physics"
  3. "Industrial Physicists: Primarily specializing in Physics" (PDF). American Institute for Physics. October 2016.
  4. "Industrial Physicists: Primarily specializing in Engineering" (PDF). American Institute for Physics. October 2016.
  5. "Industrial Physicists: Primarily specializing outside of STEM sectors" (PDF). American Institute for Physics. October 2016.
  6. Cahan, David, ed. (2003). From Natural Philosophy to the Sciences: Writing the History of Nineteenth-Century Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN   0226089282.
  7. Donald S. L. Cardwell, James Joule: A Biography, Manchester University Press - 1989, page 18
  8. Wachter, Armin; Hoeber, Henning (2006). Compendium of Theoretical Physics. New York, NY: Springer. ISBN   0-387-25799-3.
  9. Krey, Uwe; Owen, Anthony (2007). Basic Theoretical Physics : A concise overview (1st ed.). Berlin: Springer. ISBN   978-3-540-36804-5.
  10. Kompaneyets, A. S. (2012). Theoretical physics (2nd ed.). Mineola, New York: Dover. ISBN   0486609723.
  11. "Physicist". nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk. National Careers Service, United Kingdom. 7 October 2016.
  12. "The Nobel Prize in Physics". Nobelprize.org.
  13. AIP Statistical Research Center. "Industrially Employed Physicists: Primarily in Non-STEM Fields" (PDF). Retrieved August 21, 2006.
  14. "Physicists and the Financial Markets". Financial Times. 18 October 2013.
  15. American Institute for Physics (AIP) Statistical Research Center Report Physics Doctorates Initial Employment published March 2016.
  16. "What can I do with a degree in Physics?" (PDF). Augusta University. 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  17. "Physicist Career Opportunities". Illinois Institute of Technology. 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  18. "Physics Education, Applied to Engineering". National Academy of Engineering (NAE). 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  19. "Engineering Physicist careers". Simon Fraser University, Canada. 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  20. "Initial Employment Sectors of Physics Bachelor's, Classes of 2011 & 2012 Combined". American Institute of Physics. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  21. "2111 Physicists and astronomers". National Occupational Classification - Canada. 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.

Further reading